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Kevin Hart and LeBron James are Making a Movie

by Photo of Ross Bernhardt

‘Ballers’ stars the two as brothers, one a big NBA star and the other living in his shadow. Which is which?

Kevin Hart and LeBron James are Making a Movie

Miami Heat forward LeBron James is about to take his talents (sorry for the overused pun, I'm tired) to the big screen. James will co-star in a sports comedy with comedian Kevin Hart called Ballers. Hart will write the film about two brothers (James and Hart). One is a hugely successful NBA star and the other is a man struggling to live beneath the other's shadow. It's pretty clear which role each will play in this scenario.

Athletes and movies don't usually mix, and that is almost especially true with basketball players. Turns by past and present NBA stars have often resulted in high levels of unintentional comedy, though some handle themselves quite well. Based on LeBron's previous track record, I think he might be alright. He wasn't dreadful when he hosted Saturday Night Live and had this hilarious sketch with Jason Sudeikis. He also wasn't afraid to get silly when he hosted the ESPY awards back in 2007. James knows how to play the straight, alpha male, and he'll be able to hold his own bouncing off someone as manic as Hart. At least I think he'll be able to.

With that in mind though, there are plenty of places where James should look for tips, either actual or cautionary. Let's look back at some great and not-so-great moments in NBA cinematic history.

Good: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in Airplane!

This is, in my opinion, the gold standard when it comes to an athlete's performance in a film. Kareem plays co-pilot Roger Murdock/himself perfectly. His exasperated expressions when being grilled by the young child in the cockpit and his forceful explanation of how difficult it is to drag Walton and Lanier up and down the court every single night.

<iframe width="640" height="360" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/k2igwohrh_s" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Awful: Michael Jordan in Space Jam

It isn't just MJ turning in some cringe-inducing performances here. Current NBA stars like Patrick Ewing, Charles Barkley and Larry Johnson also look stiff in their roles playing themselves. Jordan gets the most screen time though, and thus he gets top (or bottom) honor here.

<iframe width="640" height="360" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/kbaKze622Kg" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Good: Ray Allen in He Got Game

There isn't much to Allen's performance in this Spike Lee joint, but he does it admirably enough to not look that bad doing it. It helps when you get to play off of Denzel Washington and you have smooth jazz music playing in the background to distract everyone.

<iframe width="640" height="360" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/i9cTBTVnkeY" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Awful: Kevin Durant in Thunderstruck

Kevin Durant made an even worse version of Space Jam for himself and had the audacity to include Jim Belushi in the cast. I've intentionally watched some of this, and it is as bad as it looked.

<iframe width="640" height="360" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/7to86ZOekOQ" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Good/Mostly Awful: Shaquille O'Neal in practically everything except Blue Chips.

Shaq has been a pop culture figure ever since he became a pro, and unfortunately that led to him thinking he could actually act. He's been in some absolutely putrid movies: Kazaam, Steel, Grown Ups 2, and plenty more. His best credit happened to be one of his first: Blue Chips. Here's a clip from that film:

<iframe width="640" height="360" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/wAE0vlaKvkM" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

And now from Kazaam...

<iframe width="640" height="360" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/8GfdemcL35A" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Where did it all go wrong for him?

So LeBron doesn't really have many tough acts to follow in this department. I think he and James will be a decent duo, but this hasn't even been written yet. There's a lot of time left to screw something like this up.

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